As debate rages over the effectiveness of digital ads, a new study suggests direct mail is way more than just a direct response medium; it drives longer term value for brands through both direct action and positive brand effect.
The timing of the report, This Time It’s Personal, could not have been better. Last week, WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell admitted that some the marketing group’s clients are increasingly wary of the channel, following evidence many online ads they pay for go unseen.
Part of the Royal Mail MarketReach’s indepth research into how consumers interact with mail, the study is based on 3,000 respondents and probes six sectors – financial services, retail, public sector, charities, travel and telecoms/utilities. It was carried out by independent agency Quadrangle.
The components of ‘valued mail’ are explored and what it makes people feel and do as a result. To define ‘valued mail’ consumers were asked to identify mail that they had received which they found useful and/or interesting.
The vast majority of consumers (85%) are most likely to perceive mail as having value when it comes from a brand with which they have an existing relationship
As long as it is personal, value can be found in almost any type of mail, whether special offers, new-product or service information, newsletters, events information, vouchers and reminders and confirmations.
Even transactional or account information mail, such as statements or bills, can have value, the report claims. This suggests that advertisers who treat transactional mail with marketing-led sensitivity can benefit.
Mail which consumers valued told them something important and personally relevant, such as: keeping them up to date (83%), telling them something new (65%), explaining what they needed to do – such as instructions, appointments or reminders – (64%), or informing them about new products and services (58%).
‘Valued mail’ also creates feelings – 92% of consumers had an emotional response as a result of receiving a piece of mail they found valuable, the research claims.
This included: feeling better or more informed (66%); keeping the advertiser top of mind (60%); feeling more positively towards the advertiser (57%); feeling that the advertiser understood them (48%); or being tempted by the product or service on offer (48%).
Of those who had an emotional response to ‘valued mail’, 92% took one or more actions that had value to the advertiser. The greater the number of feelings expressed, the more likely the recipient is to take action.
Actions created by ‘valued mail’ could be direct (42% of respondents purchased, renewed, donated, as a result of the mail item), as well as indirect. These included searching for more information online (37%); discussing it with others (33%) or planning a future purchase (29%). Meanwhile 73% of respondents held onto their valued piece of mail for future reference.
In turn, respondents who acted did not take just one action, the results found. Those who took direct action took an average of 4.7 other actions; while those who advocated a product or service took an average of 7.7 other actions.
The study suggests that for advertisers this implies that the total value of someone who responds to a valued item of mail is not just the direct response created by that particular action but includes a host of other positive effects, including advocacy.
Royal Mail MarketReach managing director Jonathan Harman said: “This research validates what we’ve always known about valued mail – that it drives direct action – but that it also opens up new areas for advertisers such as long-term responses and actions that have lasting beneficial effects on the advertiser brand.
“There’s a clear gain here for advertisers who understand this and leverage mail for both direct action and positive brand effect. This research also demonstrates the need for better metrics for mail in order to capture its long-term, positive brand benefits.”
The full This Time It’s Personal report can be downloaded from www.mailmen.co.uk
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